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Labor Watchdog Retiring Marks Latest IG to Exit Under Trump (1)

June 2, 2020, 10:16 PMUpdated: June 2, 2020, 11:13 PM

Labor Department Inspector General Scott Dahl said he will retire, becoming the latest agency watchdog to leave the Trump administration.

“This decision has been long in the works and is for entirely personal reasons,” Dahl said in a statement Tuesday. “I have not been told or asked to resign.”

Dahl will exit on June 21 after seven years in the post. He announced he’s stepping down after several other federal watchdogs were pushed out or fired by President Donald Trump in recent weeks.

The retirement comes the week after Dahl’s office clashed with DOL leadership over an interpretation of a critical provision in virus relief-law that extended unemployment insurance to freelancers and others not typically eligible for jobless benefits.

The IG wrote in a memo that the department’s guidance that encouraged states to pay jobless benefits to gig-economy workers without requiring earnings documentation has made the new benefits program “highly vulnerable” to fraud. The memo urged DOL leadership to consider consulting with Congress on the issue.

Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia praised Dahl, who was nominated by President Barack Obama.

“For seven years, Scott Dahl has helped improve the integrity and quality of the Department of Labor’s programs,” Scalia said in a statement Tuesday. “The Department and the people it serves have benefited greatly from his contributions. We wish Scott and his family the very best in the future.”

Dahl has been at the center of the agency watchdog’s oversight of DOL’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. He briefed a congressional panel on those efforts on Monday. At that briefing, Dahl said he was “very surprised” to learn that DOL’s occupational safety agency had issued only one citation arising from hundreds of virus-related inspections as of late May.

“For seven years, it has been my greatest professional honor to work with an outstanding team at the Office of Inspector General (OIG) on the extremely important work they do for the American public,” he added in his statement. “Inspectors General as independent watchdogs serve a critical role in our democracy, shining a bright light on government to protect the taxpayers’ investment.”

(Updated with labor secretary's comments in sixth and seventh paragraphs. )

To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Penn in Washington at bpenn@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Martha Mueller Neff at mmuellerneff@bloomberglaw.com; John Lauinger at jlauinger@bloomberglaw.com

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